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Respecting Motherhood: Is it Positioned or Perceived in the Way We Need?

October 12, 2011

“What would it mean if the work of a mother was respected globally?

What would it mean if the work of a beggar woman was respected – when she took the only piece of food she received that day in her bowl and gave it to her child?

What would it mean if the work of a woman in a war zone who throws her life into protecting the lives of her children was respected?

Dr. KumKum Malik posed these “deliciously unreasonable”questions in her plenary at the Women’s International Networking Conference last week in Rome. Over 950 wise women leaders were in the audience from a wide range of countries including South Africa, the UK, Croatia, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Singapore, and France. There were less than 25 of us from the US. They were from companies such as IBM, HP, IKEA, Nestle, and Shell.

As she spoke, a picture vividly appeared in my mind of the beggar woman standing all day on the street waiting for food in her bowl. Her stomach growling in hunger. Her child at home with a neighbor. I felt her courageous choice as day after day she protected the little she received to walk home at the end of the day and feed the food to her child.

Dr. Malik’s talk woke me up to another level of respect mothers deserve. What is more important than raising the next generation well?

Her extensive research showed that the work of motherhood is not respected globally, even in countries where there are mother goddesses.

By respect she means that it does not have transactional value. A woman spends her entire life doing non-negotiable work. Work that does not pay. Physically demanding. Emotionally draining. Her entire life. Why is that?

Dr. Malik spoke of it as a cosmic story in our psychological evolution as a species with no heroes or villains.  “If at any point in time we slice down, every society has imperfections – on their way to being changed. We live in constant flux, constant evolution.”

It’s time to evolve motherhood! Dr. Malik showed me that motherhood is not positioned or perceived in a way that we need. She opened my eyes, “Motherhood has been perceived as a place of natural fulfillment for a woman. It has been positioned as easy!

There are two results:

  1. No support for the work of a mother – why should there be support for non-work, something as easy as breathing!
  2. Any stress arising from motherhood is considered arising from a lack within the woman. If a woman is stressed, complaining – there is something not doing right. Stress is her fault.”

Wow. All that time I spent feeling shame, blaming myself for not being a good mother arose from the way motherhood is positioned and perceived in society? At some level I did expect it to be easy and to fulfill me entirely! What a trap.

While I LOVE being a mom – it sure wasn’t easy and I found that I’m a multi-dimensional kind of woman who enjoys being a mom, writer, speaker, consultant, coach and more. I helped found a school when my kids were young to bring spiritual and environmental values into education.

Perhaps respecting motherhood is a key to increasing the way feminine wisdom is valued, incorporated, invited, and utilized from the home to the corporate boardroom. What do you think? I’d love to know.

Warmest regards, Karen

P.S. More this week from this incredible conference!

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